Friday, October 3, 2014

Why Jay Begs Me to Watch More TV

Due to some health issues, I tire easily, so I'm frequently stuck at home, alone. To cope with confinement, I read. Quite a lot. And sometimes cabin fever and random information are a dangerous combination.

Shortly after marriage, I read a book wherein a detective solved a crime by looking at the date stamped under the lid of the toilet tank, reasoning that people wouldn't put an older toilet in a newer house. Don't ask me how the age of the dwelling helped him solve the case because I don't remember. 

But I do remember being fascinated by that bit of trivia. It's no shock, I'm sure, that I promptly went into our Master bathroom, lifted the toilet tank lid, and looked at the date. I then realized that I lacked the strength to hold the hefty piece of ceramic.

Me (calling Jay at work): Honey, I have good news and good news. First, I discovered that our house was indeed built in 1974 as evidenced by the date under the toilet tank lid. Isn't that clever?

He: The date is on the deed. Why would we need to look under the toilet tank lid?

Me: Um, well, to make sure that the deed wasn't forged?

He: You have trouble hanging onto a glass of water, so why would you try to lift the tank lid?

Me: Yeah, that's a really good point; wish I'd thought of it. Um, but my other good news is that I've urged you to replace that toilet on the grounds that its harvest gold color is hideous. (To see how hideous, click here.) But now you can feel good about replacing it for practical reasons. 

Jay (groaning): You broke the toilet? If you had to look under the lid, why didn't you just wait until I got home?

Me: Um, because I'm me.

I really had no other defense.

Then I read a book wherein one of the characters in the Old West needed a light source, so she ingeniously made a button lamp.

We live in an older neighborhood and sometimes our power goes out when it rains. Since we rarely replace our flashlight batteries, I thought it would be a good idea to practice making an alternative means of light. It was easy to wrap a scrap of cotton cloth around a button and tie it with thread. I put it on the base of our garlic roaster so the house would smell like an Italian grotto if there was any lingering odor trapped in the ceramic. I'm romantic that way.

I covered the cloth with oil and proudly lit the button lamp.

It burned beautifully, making me feel quite capable and homesteader-ish.

It burned lower, and as Jay walked into the room, I suddenly realized two things. One, that buttons were made out of metal, bone, or glass a hundred years ago, and, two, that burning plastic buttons create toxic fumes. Oops.

Oddly, Jay was not impressed with my resourcefulness.

And he was not amused with having to open all the windows in 31 degree weather to air out the house.

(Note: Should you, too, feel compelled to try this, I'd advise you to use a quarter instead of a button. And make sure you have 100% cotton cloth since synthetic material will melt, not burn. Who says my blog isn't educational!)

I also read that flint and steel could be used to start a fire. My mind raced. What if the power went out and we ran out of bread, peanut butter, and cereal? How would we fry an egg? (Never mind that we have a giant box of matches and a couple of lighters by the fireplace.)

I acquired some flint (don't ask where) and struck it upon steel to see if I could create a spark. It took several tries, but then a shower of sparkles lit up the room! I was thrilled!

Jay (panicked): What are you doing!?

Me: Seeing if I can start a fire with flint and steel. Like this! 

(More sparks)

Jay (shoving a stack of folded towels away from me): Stop that! Are you trying to burn down the kitchen?

Me (shrugging): I just thought that one of us should know how to make fire without matches. What if there's a blizzard and the power goes out and no one can get to us for weeks and the only thing left to eat is raw eggs? 

Jay: In North Carolina?

Me (offended at his lack of enthrallment of my newly acquired ability): It could happen. And you'll thank me when you're eating cooked food solely because of my skills.

Jay (rolling his eyes): Skills? Who are you, Napoleon Dynamite? And I know all about fire; I'm a firefighter.

Me: Which means you know how to put fires out, not how start them. (Striking the flint for emphasis and relishing the drama of the ensuing fireworks.)

Jay (exasperated): Stop doing that in here!

Me: Fine. I'll go practice over the tub. That should be safe.

Jay (alarmed): No! You could catch the shower curtain on fire. Or the bath mats. Or towels. Or something. Please just give them to me. If we're ever in a survival situation, I have no doubt you'll discover fifty different ways to set things on fire.

Me (pleased): Why thank you, honey! 

That was a compliment, right?

I'd list more examples of how books have inspired me, but I'm in the middle of a story that explains how to sharpen a machete with a rock, and I want to practice. Jay will be thrilled with my knowledge if we're ever stranded in a jungle with a dull knife.

Jay just read the last paragraph, put his face in his hands, and groaned. I think he was overcome with profound gratitude at my initiative to teach myself survival skills. Isn't that sweet?

Verse of the day: (Luke 12:35, 40) " Be dressed, ready for service, and keep your lamps burning, like a servant waiting for their master to return... You must also be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him." I'm ready and hope you are, too.

To read why Jay has issues with me and open flame, click here.


  1. Replies
    1. Aw, thanks! That encourages me to keep writing.

  2. You crack me up! We always DID have an intense fascination for trying things like that--we were just squashed by our extremely-practical parents. I'm glad you're letting your inner child out now! (Don't tell Jay I said that!) I won't reveal MY experiments, but I have had several very "clever" ideas--and no one to stop me! Yay!!--that, well, um, I'll keep the results to myself. ;-)


  3. You should write comedy! That was hysterical!!!!

  4. Jay's a saint. That is all. LOL

  5. Loved this story. Gave me giggles. Maybe I should start experimenting, too.